Saves in Choice of Games

Why aren’t saves implemented in Choice of games? I find it really annoying to have to start something over from the beginning because I don’t like the outcome of a particular situation.This is especially annoying if I’m in the later parts of a story. I know that a counter argument would be for replay-ability, but I see it more as an inconvenience. I just hate having to start over because a choice turned out to be something I wasn’t going for or picking a wrong choice on accident and having to go through it all over again. This really kills the story for me.

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Learning curve.
And the replayability argument still stands.
You are always free and welcome, though, to post into the respective thread to say that the wording of a particular choice was misleading.

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Ah yes, the great weakness of CYOA in a digital format: try as you might, you cannot use your fingers to mark the previous page you were on, because that last choice didn’t really count anyhow so why not go back and do it right?

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Most save systems, in any titles (CoG/HG), are usually custom-built by the author itself. Thus, creating a save system is a great challenge in the coding aspect of writing the IF.

But hey, IIRC, there’s a thread that discusses (and provides) a ready-to-use save system sometimes ago :thinking:

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Though this issue has been discussed plenty - apologies in advance if you simply can’t be arsed with Save-related discussion anymore - we’ve still not seen any sizable changes the last few years on the user’s side of the save and progression systems underlying CS games. Because “this is the way it’s always been done” is a terrible reason to do almost anything, let’s explore the context at hand:

We didn’t used to have background colour or font setting options, but we do now - and they were desperately-needed implementations that greatly improved the experience for a large number of users.

An example of our problem is: “I left-clicked by mistake, ruined the story I was enjoying, and now I must replay the last four hours of story and try to remember all the crazy choices I made.” Given how modern an era we’re in, and how complicated some computer gaming experiences can become… it does seem somewhat arbitrary and unevolved to continue forward with such a user-unfriendly progression system at the core of every CS game.

As someone rightly said above, with a paperback CYOA you can just remember your page numbers - but now we’ve ascended to a vastly superior and more flexible, customisable, etc format, we’ve… removed features to ensure the user experience is more “realistic” or something? It would seem to me that deciding whether to modify their own experience by messing with the progression system or not is the prerogative of the user at hand.

I appreciate fully the argument that preventing users from “going back one page” or creating their own save points creates a more fluid, dynamic and intense experience for the reader. However, I’d also argue that removing seatbelts and airbags from cars achieves the same goal - the experience is more real, visceral and intense, but once a mistake has been made, you’ll be wishing desperately for those safety measures.

It must also be noted - using the Steam version of CS games enables one to mess around with the save files anyway. They can be edited and copy/pasted to provide full stat hacking and enables the user to maintain their own save-progression system. Should we hurry to encrypt and encode these files to prevent such dastardly users proceeding with their evil ways? Or should we simply revel in the joy that our beloved books are so thoroughly explored and beheld with wonder by their readers and adherents?

Above everything else, I’d assume there to be a staffing and finance issue at the core of this (not sure if this is a faux pas to discuss so please forgive me if so). In an ideal world where the CoG founders are now billionaires, we would surely have a very user-friendly progression system built-in to all CS products - but we don’t, and they aren’t, and budgets and time constraints are a real thing.

For example, as mentioned earlier, the ability to change background colour - I was quite shocked how long it took (years) to implement such a (presumably) simple and effective way to improve the user experience across the board; but we got there in the end. So it may be some time, but hopefully, it’s on the long list of CoG / HG team wishes for the future: I think the brand / platform will be served far better by morphing to meet its users needs and popular demands; we’d like to be entering 2020 showing strong growth as a community, taking in new users from all over the world; not shrinking as people abandon the platform for more user-friendly technologies. :ribbon:

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There has been some games that have something like a check point system (Mecha Ace and Study in Steampunk come to mind) which I thought was a nice compromise. You can’t just save wherever you want but if you make a choice you don’t like or accidentally choose one you don’t have to go all the way to the beginning.

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I mean Dashingdon has a save system from what I can tell or at least the majority of the games I’ve demo-ed there all had a save system where you can in fact save wherever. The important part here is that it’s FREE and I find the general experience regarding mechanics and such much better with the save system implemented.
Now I genuinely do not see why a similar system can’t be integrated into a normal HG or COG game. Perhaps it’s a technical difficulty? maybe the staff just deem saving an insignificant feature? We won’t know for sure but we can definitely say that it’s a feature which will benefit many.

With it, those against such things can just simply not save. But without, players in need have no option available to them

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As Mewsly mentioned, some of the official releases come with checkpoints. Given that a save feature of some kind is highly desired among players I’ve got to ask - why hasn’t this become the norm? Why do some games have them and others don’t? Even if there’s some kind of time or money constraints, wouldn’t it be possible to create a base from scratch that you can just copy-paste into later iterations and releases?

Honestly, whatever other features may be on the wishlist I think nothing takes as much priority as a save system. I can make do without the fancy font, background or picture, but for the love of god, nothing is more infuriating than having to restart a 600k word game, several times, from scratch, just because I didn’t like a particular outcome half-way through.

Replayability, for me, means the game has a good enough story and development that, no matter what path I take, even if it ins’t optimal, it feels like it’s still worth seeing it through to the end. Replayability, for me, means once I reach the end, the game left such a good impression on me that I’m willing to give it another go to see what can I do different.

Not every game is created equally or equally liked by the players. Forcing me to trudge through an outcome I don’t like ins’t a good way of convincing me to play it again.

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What perplexes me most is that if your read my previous comment, Dashingdon is a FREE platform with a save system on almost every game as far as I can tell so monetary constraints are far from being the cause
And judging from how long this has been a problem, time is hardly an acceptable excuse. They can simply hard code the system into CScript or something and literally EVERY SINGLE game would benefit thereafter
Honestly, I can’t help but feel a bit disappointed when a free demo makes for a more pleasurable experience than a game I PAID for

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In the sense of a choice does not lead to what you expected based on the language of the choices or the lead-in text? Or in the sense of “I don’t care for the narrative?” Or, for games that have random elements, a random number generator has led to an outcome you don’t like?

I guess what I’m asking is whether it’s a narrative issue or a signaling issue that tends to make you want go back.

For me, I often like to get lots of endings in game, so that requires a good deal of reclicking through old choices to try to identify where a branch point happens. It can be annoying. But I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to roll back a choice mid-game.

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@Gower
I think there’s two cruxes here as to why I feel a certain way about restarting:

  • I feel punished for taking a certain path: There’s a personal component here in that sometimes I can be a perfectionist who wants to attain the best possible ending or avoid bad things happening to the characters I like. Other times I feel like the story punishes you for not taking a particular path, to whom I’m going to refer as “canon ending”. You could attain different endings but they’re nowhere near as elaborate or interesting as the “canon” one. Basically the author makes the game with a particular story in mind and a particular path (maybe their favorite) on how to get there. Since CoG is a company that sells CYOA-style games, it’s possible some authors include different (but weak alternate paths) just to fit the bill.

  • The narrative ins’t interesting enough for a second round: And I think this is where the biggest issue lies. The Samurai of Hyga is one of the best series I’ve read around here, so much in fact I’m willing to forgive it’s shortcomings (the third book for example has a very slow start, probably because I played the demo). Fact is I restarted that book several times… and I hate restarting a game from scratch. So what is it about that game I’m willing to try over and over again but not others? I’m going to take a guess and point at the narrative - because no matter what path I take I feel like there’s something in there fore me to keep at it. The story is interesting no matter what you do. No every game can attain that sort of balance.

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This is the “back button” question in slightly different form–a save function would ultimately do what a back button does–and we recently rehashed it over here.

If I’ve understood them correctly, this isn’t something CoG have avoided doing because of limited resources. They’ve refused to integrate a save function because it goes against their game design philosophy. They believe the choices in a CoG are given weight by the inability to just jump back to a save point… that like a back button, a save function would turn the game into a chore of flipping back and forth until you found your ideal path.

Some games–like mine–would be so infuriating without some ability to retry things that it’s worth coding in a chapter checkpoint system. But in a way, that’s one of the things that makes Rebels a sub-par CoG game. CoG’s design ideal is that the games remain interesting on any path; there shouldn’t be a wrong way through.

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Maybe the solution should be more on the side of the writing/editing than the save system, then–if the narrative isn’t compelling on every branch–or gives you the sense that there’s a “right” path–a save system might not even help. I can see how that would be frustrating.

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Two things; Rebels is anything but sub-par. :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

Secondly, unfortunately too many games are stat-dependent, making plenty of wrong ways ‘just because you dared to role-play instead of doing the Munchkin (min-max stats)’ at the very end of the game. :sweat:

I know I have relegated games I enjoyed up until point X to ‘maybe some day next decade I’ll play it again’ because of issues like this. Now, this may not matter to CoG for all I know, as the sales has been made, but personally I try to see if it is a ‘non-save point’, ‘stat-penalising’ game before I buy these days.

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True, that said I still believe a save system can do wonders for both of you (author and customer).

Writing/editing will always be an effort of questionable gain as you can’t please everyone and not every work of yours will be a masterpiece. Whether the player is a perfectionist or looking for better results it’s better to have a checkpoint system at hand than forcing them down a path they consider weak, as nothing guarantees they’re sticking around for a second round after that and that could make all the difference in the reviews of the game.

^Thisssssssss. So true.

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Here’s my perspective on why you shouldn’t allow saving and loading at will:

It reinforces the story. When you can’t simply undo an action, the story becomes more immersive and “real”. Every choice you make is less about “what is correct” and more about “how would my character act in this situation”. When you can’t peek behind each option, each choice becomes “yours” in a sense.

This of course requires that the game itself is done with a certain mindset. If there are wrong or poor choices to be made, it’s just punishing to not allow the player to reload. If everything is equal gameplay wise, with the only difference being in the player’s story, then I believe it’s the correct choice to “force” the player to follow the story they have chosen. And even if some choices are better than others, I’m fine with it as long as I don’t know it.

It’s pretty much the only reason I can truly enjoy interactive fiction. If I play a computer game with normal saving and loading, I compulsively save and load until I get the desired result, which makes roleplaying games far less immersive than they could be. A conversation with some NPCs will become less about what’s going on and more about “what will I get out of this?”. And that’s very unfortunate.

Could I stop what I’m doing? Theoretically, but probably not. But when I don’t have the choice, it forces me to immerse myself in the story, rather than to think “how can I win”. Since I can’t test to see what option has the desired result, every result is equal and thus I will be satisfied with what I’ve chosen, provided the choice itself hasn’t been botched by the creator(as they sometimes are). In a sense, it frees me from the tyranny of choices.

On the other hand chapter based saving is fine, because if the save point is too far away I’ll probably not be tempted to load it and try again. In fact I’ve never done it so far, even when I’ve chosen something that has angered me greatly like instant-death of a character and an abrupt end to the game… And the reason to that is because I have felt that that is how the story should have played out. That is the most valuable thing of all, that I’m so immersed with the game that I can’t load it, because it makes me feel like I was retconning what happened or introducing plot holes, or writing my own fan fiction instead of letting it play out “like it’s supposed to”. I don’t want to cheapen the story with such actions.

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A chapter checkpoint saving is probably the best middle road here, it will prevent going back to each choice to see the outcomes but will enable the player to come back near where he died or failed, maybe even giving him more time to change his strategy for this part.

Someone asked why this isn’t more common and it’s simple. There is no command for when making the game to implement something like this, it has to be made manually. That is not something everyone can make. Let’s remember that many that write the games are not experienced programmers.

What is needed to make this more common is a command for the creator of the game to implement it more easily. Like for example a *checkpoint command which is when the game saves, and a *load command to make it go back.

The save system in many dashingdon games is pretty much the same thing, but it’s saved or loaded by the player. If such a thing was made by the game itself in specific points the author deems appropriate like auto-saving, it would improve the experience. No need to go back the WHOLE game to reach where you were.

At the very least, it can include an option of “perma-death”, like allowing the player to either come back to the checkpoint or restart the entire game if their prefer. This covers all options.

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I have to favor the idea of some sort of save system or checkpoints. As mobile user who plays a number of games with a sensitive and sometimes cracked touchscreen I occasionally mess up my entries. perhaps on smaller entries this might be a small inconvenience, but tally ho and choice of cats are six hundred thousand words long.

If I accidentally select a different option than intend during the race(this has happened three times already) I must sort through somewhere over eighty percent of the story.

This is something of a chore even considering the fact that I have a good rote memory and can blitz thru much of the early story. I can only imagine the how much more difficult and time consuming(I do have responsibilities to take care of through the day) it would be to have to slowly assess the entirety of such a large work without this skill.

I must also point out that choice of games has an email based saving system in place for games which have been broken up into volumes(Choice of Romance, Zombie Exodus) and an archive to store them.

Is it really to much to ask them to include this system for large works such as Choice of Cats and Tally Ho?

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I think we need to get it straight that the reason why we wanted a save system is that our choices resulted in an unexpected fashion.

I mean, bad endings and locked out of options are fair game (to a certain extent). However, when something goes bad because we didn’t know that our previous choices lead to that kind of situation, I think that’s where the problem is.

It would be frustrating if our character dies because they drink a random jug of water, isn’t it? But if the narration foreshadows this somewhere before the choice is made, I think it’ll make this scene interesting. Maybe the water comes from a contaminated spring, maybe someone put a poison in it, maybe a greater being deems our mc isn’t worthy enough to drink this jug of water.

This.

As said, it’s fair to complain if the wording of something doesn’t even give a hint to what will happen, and honestly, those instances ought to get fixed.
But, honestly, often the requests/demands for saves comes across more as ‘I don’t want to play if i can’t win on 100% instantly’